Today, my London best friend got engaged.
It happened in Rome, though she lives in DC and is originally from California. International enough to make your head spin, but that’s the nature of a growing number of friendships nowadays – ones that span oceans and continents and Skype connections and snail mailboxes.
In moments like these (ie while getting Big Life News, with caps), I’ve felt at once transcendentally close to my friends and painfully far away. After receiving the announcement today at work, I bounced around for awhile in my seat, then locked myself in an office to leave a voicemail on her phone and do a little silent jig of delight (unfortunately the office door was glass. Awkward. Hellooo, coworkers.)
For the rest of the day, I had a smile on my face. I didn’t mind minor annoyances at work. I didn’t mind the weather claiming to be +9C but feeling like -5C. I only minded a little when an obnoxious Arsenal fan threatened to push me over on the Piccadilly line. Because my mind was far away, with someone I care about, who was over the moon.
In the last year or so, I’ve been the recipient of this kind of news a few times (erm, obviously from different friends). In each case, my reaction was like nothing I can quite describe – a swelling happiness, accompanied by a pronounced soreness of cheekbones, mixed in with a nagging feeling that actually we’re not old enough for all this yet and weren’t we just in high school dancing to Crazy in Love?!
Truth be told, I’ve yet to experience this whole thing in person, rather than over Skype or WhatsApp or BBM (serious sadface). The hardest part about living in London, hands down, is being away from my friends (and even worse, family, but that goes without saying). Missing things. With weddings in particular – arguably one of life’s most significant events – it really hits you. So far, due to lack of flying funds or holiday days or both, I’ve had to miss the weddings of my cousin and three extremely good friends. It hurt my heart a little each time. I’m not sure where I’ll end up after I’m all done here, but I’ve decided it is imperative that the criteria include ‘being able to fly home for a long weekend without bankrupting myself’. It’s all well and good to be able to sift through the Facebook slideshow after the fact with popcorn and Kleenex, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that can’t compare to the real thing.
In the meantime, well, there is that Skype connection. And the awesome feeling you get when you know others are miles away but in the same mindset and thinking about the same thing (as I type this, I’m simultaneously chatting with friends in Cardiff and Vancouver about today’s news and related subjects too mortifyingly girlish to put into the public sphere).
In some cases I truly believe the distance makes you try harder, care deeper, and keep more up to date with the goings on in your friends’ lives than you might otherwise if you had them down the street. In this particular case, I never would’ve made a London best friend had I not crossed that ocean in the first place. And with enough holiday days in the system, there’s a very good chance I’ll be making this one in person. You know, where there’ll be other people to dance with, ineffective glass doors being a thing of the past.
To everybody else…let’s not all rush down the aisle in one unruly mob. I promise to be home before you know it.
Congratulazioni (did I make that up?) A&J ❤